7 Things to Do in Ravenna, Italy on a Day Trip from Bologna

Ravenna, Italy is one of the lesser explored destinations in Italy. It’s located in the Emilia-Romagna region close to Bologna. 

Home to some of the most magnificent mosaics in the world, Ravenna is a treasure trove of art and history. Ravenna is home to 8 UNESCO-listed monuments! From San Vitale Basilica to the charming Mausoleo di Galla Placidia, you’ll be awed just as I was, by the intricate details of these ancient masterpieces.

There are many different basilicas to visit all with stunning mosaics. You can’t even see the detail and beauty of it all from a single video or picture. In this post, we’ll uncover the best things to do in Ravenna, Italy on a day trip from Bologna.

Note: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to purchase something through the links, at no additional cost to you. Read our Affiliate Disclosure here.

Check out this video on my Instagram to see what Ravenna is like! And give me a follow @joujoutravels

About Ravenna

During a pivotal time in history, Ravenna once served as the capital city of the Western Roman Empire. Established as the imperial capital by Emperor Honorius in 402 AD, Ravenna was chosen for its strategic location, far away from the barbarian invasions that threatened Rome.

Ravenna grew to importance due to this and became the military center of the Western Roman Empire. The city grew to attract skilled artisans and craftmen which is how so many impressive monuments were built here. All of which are full of stunning mosaics such as those found in the Basilica of San Vitale and the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia. All of the buildings remain as symbols of Ravenna’s legacy as the capital of the Western Roman Empire.

However, in 476AD the city eventually fell due to invasions by barbarian tribes, and sadly Ravena’s status as the imperial capital was short-lived.

However, Ravenna’s significance endured through the centuries, as it continued to serve as a center of power under various rulers, including the Byzantine Empire and the Kingdom of the Ostrogoths.

Today, Ravenna stands as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, revered for its exceptional collection of early Christian and Byzantine art and architecture. Many visitors, each year, come to marvel at its breathtaking monuments and gain insight into the fascinating history of the Western Roman Empire.

Before you go:
💱Currency: Euro €
🚗 Rent a Car with Discover Cars which will allow you to get the best deals.
⛪ Top Tours: Mosaics & Food Tour | Ravenna Highlights with a Local Expert
💡 Pro-Tip: It’s better to buy combo tickets to save money for all the different basilicas. You can get combo tickets here.
🏥 Travel Insurance in Italy: I recommend SafetyWing which will cover you in case of trip cancellations or any accidents during your travels.
🏨 Hotel Pick: Hotel Centrale Byron in Ravenna

How Long Do You Need to Visit Ravenna?

I spent around 4-5 hours in Ravenna. During that time frame, I visited San Vitale, Basilica of San Francesco, had a quick lunch, and continued on to see Mausoleo di Galla Placidia, Basilica di Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, and Battistero Neoniano.

However, if you prefer a slower pace, consider staying overnight for 1-2 nights. You can then take your time seeing all the mosaics in the stunning basilicas and even day trip to other wonderful hidden gems like Comaccio.

Is Ravenna Worth Visiting?

Ravenna may not be the prettiest town from the outside but from the inside, it’s purely magical. The real treasure lies within the many basilicas of this rightfully recognized UNESCO Heritage Site.

As you enter all the stunning basilicas, you’ll be truly in awe by the beautiful ceilings and walls. All of which are adorned with the most intricate mosaics. This alone makes Ravenna well worth a visit especially if you’re into churches!

Where to Stay

In Ravenna

If you have the chance to stay in Ravenna, here are some central options!

$$ Budget to mid-range: Hotel Centrale Byron
$$$ Luxury: Palazzo Galletti Abbiosi

In Bologna

$ Budget: Combo Bologna
$$ Mid-range: Scandellari Apartments | Residenza Palazzo Marchesini
$$$ Luxury: Hotel Corona d’Oro

How to Get to Ravenna

The nearest major airport to Ravenna is Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport (BLQ), which is about 80 km (50 miles) away. From there, you can take a train or bus to Ravenna. The train is direct from Bologna Centrale to Ravenna in only 1 hour and 12 minutes.

Alternatively, you can fly to other nearby airports such as Florence Airport (FLR) or Venice Marco Polo Airport (VCE), and then travel to Ravenna by train or bus.

If you can rent a car, you will be able to explore many small towns around the Emilia-Ferrara region like Comaccio, Dozza Imolese, Ferrara, among others.

One of the most convenient ways to get to Ravenna would be on a tour from Bologna. You will meet the tour guide in Bologna and travel together seeing all the highlights. You can book the tour here.

Map of Ravenna Attractions for your One Day Trip

Here’s a map of everything in this post for your one day in Ravenna!

You can also download this map from the tourism administration.

Best Things to Do in Ravenna, Italy in One Day

As I mentioned, I did all the below best things to do in Ravenna in just a day. What you should expect in a visit to Ravenna is seeing so many wonderful churches all filled with stunning and detailed mosaics.

I also saw that there’s an umbrella street in Ravenna. Unfortunately, when I visited, it was not there. It might only be up in the summer or they’ve taken it away.

⭐ PS: They have this amazing tour that will take you to some of the main highlights mentioned below and also have you taste local food along the way! You can book the tour here: Mosaics & Food Tour

1. Basilica San Vitale

San Vitale is one of Ravenna’s most iconic landmarks and is the number one best thing to do when visiting! You’ll see why as soon as you enter. The interiors of this basilica are covered with stunning Byzantine mosaics and architectural grandeur.

The basilica dates back to the 6th century and is characterized by its octagonal shape and elegant dome. Inside are many scenes depicting biblical scenes and imperial figures.

📍 Basilica San Vitale (Google Maps Location)
⏱️ Opening times: March to November: 9 AM to 7 PM daily; November to March: 10 AM to 5 PM daily
🎟️ Entry: around €10.50 for adults
or visit 3 monuments for $13 or 5 monuments for $15
Book Combo Tickets ahead here

2. Battistero Neoniano

The Battistero Neoniano, or the Baptistry of Neon, is one of Ravenna’s oldest Christian monuments, dating back to the 5th century. The baptistery is octagonal in shape and has the most intricate mosaic ceiling. It features scenes from the life of Christ and the Apostles.

📍 Battistero Neoniano (Google Maps Location)
⏱️ Opening times: March to November: 9 AM to 7 PM daily; November to March: 10 AM to 5 PM daily
🎟️ Entry: Visit 3 monuments for $13 or 5 monuments for $15
Book Combo Tickets ahead here

3. Try a Piadina Sandwich

After strolling for some time and seeing all the pretty mosaics, you might be hungry. The Emilia Romagna region is home to the most amazing food ever. Don’t miss trying a Piadina, a typical sandwich from Ravenna. You can try it at Profumo di Piadina. It was stuffed with prosciutto, pistachio, and burrata – absolutely heavenly!

📍 Profumo di Piadina (Google Maps)
⏱️ Opening times: 11-3 pm daily except closed on Sundays

4. Basilica of Saint Francis

The Basilica of San Francis is a charming church in the historic center. It dates back to the 10th century, featuring a mix of Romanesque and Gothic architectural styles. The interior houses notable artworks and frescoes, including works by artists such as Luca Longhi and Marco Palmezzano. Next to here, you’ll also find Dante’s Tomb.

📍 Basilica of Saint Francis (Google Maps Location)
⏱️ Opening times: Daily 7 am-12 pm and 3 pm to 7pm
🎟️ Entry: around entry is free, though donations are appreciated.

5. Basilica di Sant’Apollinare Nuovo

The Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo is another masterpiece of Ravenna’s Byzantine architecture. Built in the 6th century, it features a long nave flanked by marble columns and adorned with vibrant mosaics depicting biblical stories and saints. The basilica’s stunning mosaics are among the finest examples of early Christian art in Italy.

📍 Basilica di Sant’Apollinare Nuovo (Google Maps Location)
⏱️ Opening times: March to November: 9 AM to 7 PM daily; November to March: 10 AM to 5 PM daily
🎟️ Entry: Visit 3 monuments for $13 or 5 monuments for $15
Book Combo Tickets ahead here

6. Mausoleo di Galla Placidia

The Mausoleum of Galla Placidia is a small but incredibly significant monument commissioned by empress Galla Placidia, Built in the 5th century, it is one of the oldest buildings in Ravenna. These mosaics adorn the interior walls and ceilings. The center of the dome is covered with a starry sky and a cross at the center.

📍 Mausoleo di Galla Placidia (Google Maps Location)
⏱️ Opening times: March to November: 9 AM to 7 PM daily; November to March: 10 AM to 5 PM daily
🎟️ Entry: Visit 3 monuments for $13 or 5 monuments for $15
Book Combo Tickets ahead here

7. Day Trip to the colorful town of Comacchio

I did everything in this list as a day trip from Bologna. I even went to Comacchio after as this town can be explored in an hour and a half.

The colorful town of Comacchio is only a 40 minute drive away from Ravenna! It seriously reminded me of Burano, Italy. You might even mistake it for Burano if you don’t look close enough!

This town was a pure hidden gem. Known for producing eel, this colorful fisherman’s village is well worth a visit. Stroll around the charming corners and it’s iconic landmark, the Trepponti Bridge.

For more reading, you may also like:
🇮🇹 Best Cities in Emilia-Romagna
🎨 Dozza Imolese: The Town of Murals in Emilia-Romagna
🍝 8 Things to Do in Bologna, Italy
🌈 Comacchio, Italy: Burano’s Look-alike Town
💎 Hidden Gems in Italy
💎 30 Best Hidden Gems in Europe
📸 Most Beautiful Cities in Europe
👩 Solo Female Travel Guide to Italy
🇮🇹 For more travel inspo visit my Italy section

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *